SeaWorld Entertainment on Wednesday may have given local news many in the area have been waiting for.
Along with releasing its quarterly earnings and plans for its parks, SeaWorld indicated it expects Busch Gardens Williamsburg to start a phased reopening in early August.
SeaWoorld began the phased reopening of some of its parks with reduced operating days and capacity limitations. In particular, on June 6, the company’s Aquatica park in Texas reopened; on June 11, all five of the Company’s Florida parks reopened; on June 19, its SeaWorld park in Texas reopened and on July 24, its Sesame Place park in Pennsylvania reopened.
However, this news comes after Gov. Ralph Northam announced new pandemic restrictions for the Peninsula and Hampton Roads areas, citing rising cases of the coronavirus. The new restrictions could last over the course of two to three weeks.
It’s unclear if Northam’s new restrictions will change the company’s plans to reopen Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
Representatives from SeaWorld and Busch Gardens did not immediately respond for comment.
SeaWorld outlined in a news release its new health and safety protocols which include an increase in cleaning and sanitizing efforts, capacity limitations, physical distancing practices and the requirement of face coverings and temperature checks for both employees and guests.
The company has also introduced a new online reservation system that will help manage parks’ capacity and will limit the number of operating days at each park to optimize cash flow.
Despite these limitations, the company reports a 14 percent increase in park visitation between June 28 and July 26 for parks that have reopened.
But the pandemic has caused a severe financial loss for the company as well.
SeaWorld’s second quarter is predicted to experience a net loss of approximately $105 million. Total revenue for the second quarter is predicted to be $18 million, which is a significant decrease from $406 million in revenue for the second quarter of 2019.
The company has taken extra steps to make up for those losses such as decreasing executive officer salaries by 20 percent and substantially reducing or deferring all of its capital projects.
SeaWorld expects attendance levels to grow at its parks as the company re-introduces several special events, interactive experiences and other activities. SeaWorld has also decreased its marketing spending during the initial reopening phase but plans to increase marketing efforts in the future to help grow attendance.
The announcement to reopen Busch Gardens in Williamsburg comes after the park recently sent a survey to guests to gather more information about how best to reopen.